Last October, as a lil pre-birthday treat, I decided to head to Germany for the first time and get my tourist on. I’d had Germany in the back of my mind for a while, always one of those countries I definitely wanted to get around to at some point. So when searching for the perfect city break, Berlin seemed like a good a place as any. And boy, after this trip, I can definitely say that Berlin – drum roll please – is in my top five cities, right up there getting cosy next to NYC.
This city break had me fall head over heels for Germany’s capital and let’s just say I’ve been itching to go back ever since. I’m hoping that this blog post will capture my experience in Berlin whilst sharing some of my favourite “must sees” of this city.
An important aspect to this trip which I found really useful was location. Our hotel was close to Berlin Cathedral, which meant we were central and did most of our exploring on foot. It’s definitely something I prefer to do whilst travelling as it saves spending money on expensive travel cards and also gives you a chance to see more of the city. Being in the centre also meant that we were only a stone’s throw away from the main hustle and bustle of the city. Check out the view from our hotel below!
Berlin Cathedral itself was utterly breathtaking. We hadn’t planned on going inside, but after spending a good ten minutes gawping at the building itself, we decided to pay the €7 to go inside and climb the dome. Inside, it’s your typical cathedral; beautiful paintings across the ceiling and a staircase with hundreds of steps. But I can assure you, it’s worth the sweat as you get a great view of the city from the top!
Gendenmarket is a square surrounded by not one, but three (THREE) incredible buildings. This was our first stop whilst in Berlin as we took a detour on our way to the Reichstag – it was definitely worth it. It’s considered by some Germans as the most beautiful square in the whole of Germany!! The Christmas markets are held in this square during December, which, if ya fancy a quick google, look absolutely dreamy and festive. It’s definitely making me want to go on a Christmas market road trip through Germany for sure!
As for the Reichstag, it’s just as impressive as you’d expect a parliament building to be. I’d highly recommend booking through the website (it’s free) to go inside and explore the modern and slightly futuristic interior. Plus, you get another great view of the city from the top and if you’re like me, you’re a sucker for a good view!
The Reichstag is also close to two other must-see landmarks, which is super handy if you’re doing all your exploring on foot. The first is the Brandenburg gate, a super iconic monument that you’re bound to have seen a photo of before. The square surrounding the gate got increasingly busy as we arrived around midday, so my only recommendation would be to perhaps arrive a little earlier if you want a people-free shot!
The second landmark, is The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This memorial was set up in 2005 to remember the Jewish victims of the holocaust. It consists of almost 3.000 concrete slabs, varying in height, creating a maze-like system which is free to explore. The memorial also has a visitors centre underneath, where you can learn more about the meaning behind it.
Berlin is full of history. It was at the heart of both World Wars and the Cold War, meaning there is something to learn and interesting to see around every corner. The most famous, of course, being the Berlin wall. You can visit the wall memorial which teaches you about the history behind the wall that once split the city in two. Or you can visit the East Side Gallery. The gallery itself is the longest single segment of the Berlin Wall still standing, the whole thing taking fifteen minutes to walk along, whilst taking in the artwork. 118 different artists contributed to this gallery, each one painting a piece on the wall with a story behind it. It was definitely very moving, yet uplifting at the same time – especially the artwork about love and peace.
My next recommendation is Checkpoint Charlie, the old crossing point between East and West Berlin when the wall once stood. It looks a little cheesy and at first we decided against the photo. But hey, eventually we caved and paid the 3€ each, because my girlfriend wanted to try on the hats and pose with the flags. But we got a bunch of pretty cute photos which I was kinda chuffed with, so I’m not complaining. There is also a museum you can visit if you fancy a history lesson and a better understanding of the checkpoint itself. I found it a little info heavy (I’m not kidding, every wall was covered in text), so wouldn’t rank it very high on my list of recommendations. But if that’s your thing, then be sure to check it out.
Finally, our last stop whilst in Berlin was Charlottenburg Palace. It’s a train ride from the centre, but worth the visit if you have some space in your itinerary. The gardens are free to explore and are absolutely beautiful; it was autumn when we went so everything was bright and orange. We didn’t make it inside the palace itself, but I’ve read it’s just as flawless as the gardens, so would definitely be a great excursion (especially on a rainy day).
Plus, we had some really great burgers from a place called – now, wait for it – Charlottenburger! We stumbled across this little place whilst on our way to the palace and would definitely recommend it as somewhere to stop for a bite to eat. Our burgers were utterly delicious and fresh.
Have you ever been to Berlin? If so, what was your favourite thing to do?
Thanks for reading! 🙂